Selectmen quiet on noise ordinance change

HUDSON – The Board of Selectmen held off on moving forward with any changes to the noise ordinance Tuesday, with some board members saying they wanted some issues clarified.

The board is re-examining aspects of the ordinance after resident Hal Kreider complained about a contractor near his home using heavy equipment on a Sunday. Kreider submitted several proposed changes to the ordinance that Community Development Director Sean Sullivan researched and commented upon.

Sullivan recommended that the ordinance be amended to allow commercial contractors to do outdoor construction from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday only. Currently, nighttime and Sunday work is allowed, but must not exceed the noise limits outlined in the ordinance.

Some board members questioned what the definition of commercial contractor is and whether the ordinance would affect businesses such as gravel operations.

Before the board enacts an ordinance that could affect a number of operations, it should know who would be covered, Selectman Rick Maddox said.

Some construction work, such as paving, may need to be done at night, noted Selectman Ken Massey. He suggested that the ordinance outline the process for contractors to seek a waiver allowing them to do work at night.

“I can see at least one class of construction that has to be done outside those hours,” he said.

Among Kreider’s suggestions was that the town should provide contractors with noise level information before they begin so they know the limits, and that when town employees respond to noise complaints they should always take a noise meter reading.

Sullivan, however, suggested against changing the ordinance to require mandatory noise meter readings.

“The term ‘always’ can be misleading and demanding,” he wrote in a memo.

The tests should be left to the discretion of the police officers and town employees trained to use the noise meters, he said.

“There should be some degree of discretion,” he said. “It’s hard to predict every situation.”

This is not the first time the board has considered making changes to the ordinance.

After several residents complained about a neighbor using his property for dirt bikes, the board re-examined the ordinance.

Instead of making changes, the board opted to buy new noise meters and have police officers and members of the community development office trained in their use.